Republicans in Georgia are planning election restrictions after Trump’s defeat

The New York Times

FBI makes contact between Proud Boys member and Trump Associate Before Riot

WASHINGTON – A member of the far right nationalist Proud Boys was in touch with someone connected to the White House in the days leading up to the January 6 attack on the Capitol, according to a police officer who was briefed on the investigation. Location, cellular and call recording data revealed a call connecting a Proud Boys member to the Trump White House, the official said. The FBI has not established what they were talking about and the officer would not disclose the names of either party. The link that emerges from the communications data comes when the FBI stepped up its investigation into contacts between right-wing extremists, Trump White House staff and conservative members of Congress in the days leading up to the attack. Sign up for The Morning Newsletter from the New York Times. The same data has revealed no evidence of any communication between the rioters and members of Congress during the deadly attack, the official said. This undermines Democratic allegations that some Republican lawmakers were active participants on the day. Separately, Enrique Tarrio, a leader of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys, told the New York Times on Friday that he called Roger Stone, a close associate of former President Donald Trump, during a protest outside Sen’s house. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. During the protest that took place in the days leading up to the attack on the Capitol, he put Stone on the speakerphone to address the congregation. A police officer said that Tarrio’s communications with Stone had not been checked and that the call outside Rubio’s house was a different matter. That two members of the group were in contact with people connected to the White House underscores the access of violent extremist groups like the Proud Boys to the White House and people close to the former president. Stone denied “any involvement in or knowledge of the attack on the Capitol” in a statement to the Times last month. Tarrio was arrested in Washington on January 4th for property destruction for his role in burning a Black Lives Matter banner that was torn from a historic black church during a protest in Washington in December. He was asked to leave the city and was not present when the Capitol was attacked. His case is pending. The Justice Department has charged more than a dozen members of the Proud Boys with crimes related to the attack, including conspiracy to prevent the final confirmation of President Joe Biden’s election victory and targeting law enforcement officers. In court records, prosecutors have stated that groups of Proud Boys have also coordinated trips to Washington and apartment communities near the city to disrupt Congress and fuel Trump’s efforts to illegally control the presidency. The communication between the White House person and the Proud Boys member was spotted in part through data the FBI obtained from tech and telecommunications companies immediately after the attack. Court documents show FBI arrest warrants for a list of all the phones connected to the cell towers that service the Capitol and that they have received information from the major cellular operators about the numbers called by everyone on the Capitol cell towers during the riot , three officials who are familiar with the investigation said. The FBI also received a “geofence” command for all Android devices that Google recorded in the building during the attack. A geofence warrant by law gives law enforcement agencies a list of mobile devices that can be identified in a given geographic area. Jill Sanborn, the FBI’s head of counterterrorism, testified before a Senate committee Wednesday that all of the data the FBI gathered in its investigation into the riot was legally obtained through subpoenas and search warrants. Although investigators found no contact between the rioters and members of Congress during the attack, those recordings in the days leading up to Jan. 6 showed evidence of communication between right-wing extremists and lawmakers who planned to appear at the rally with Trump that happened shortly before the attack, according to one of the officers. The Justice Department is reviewing these releases but has not opened an investigation against members, the official said. A department spokesman declined to comment. However, the FBI announced Thursday that it had arrested a former State Department aide on allegations related to the attack, including illegal entry, violent and disorderly behavior, obstruction of Congress and law enforcement, and attacking an official with a dangerous weapon. Former middle-level aide Federico Klein, who appeared in videos of officers with a stolen shield, was the first member of the Trump administration to face criminal charges in connection with the storming of the Capitol. His lawyer declined to comment on Friday. Right-wing extremists, including members of the Oath Keepers, a militia group composed mostly of former law enforcement and military personnel, have worked as security forces for Republicans and for Trump’s allies like Stone. Stone, who was pardoned by Trump after refusing to help investigate the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian intelligence, has known Tarrio for some time and appointed Oath Guards as bodyguards before and on the day of the Capitol attack. The Justice Department is investigating communications between Stone and far-right extremists to see if he played a role in extremists’ plans to disrupt certification on Jan. 6, according to two people familiar with the matter who were not empowered to speak about the too speak investigation. Should investigators find any news suggesting Stone is in any way connected to such schemes, they would have a factual basis on which to launch a full criminal investigation into him, people said. Stone said last month that he was “given voluntary security by the Oath Guards,” but noted that their security work did not constitute evidence that he was involved in or informed of any plans to attack Congress. He reiterated a previous statement that anyone involved in the attack should be prosecuted. The Justice Department has charged more than 300 people with crimes resulting from the January 6 attack. It has used evidence gathered from its extensive search for attackers – including information from cellular operators and tech companies – to compile evidence of more sophisticated crimes such as conspiracy. Possible seditious conspiracy charges are also being investigated, according to two people familiar with the investigation. This article originally appeared in the New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company